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četvrtak, 29. kolovoza 2013.

Tomislav Krizman - Croatian Secession Painter, Sculptor, Graphic Artist...

It occurred to me today that I haven't done a Croatian artist post in a while. Trying to decide which artist to do this time though became much easier after coming across Tomislav Krizman, one of the first 19th and early 20th century artists that was a part of the European and Croatian modernist art movements, but importantly also a graphic artist. Tomislav Krizman was one of the first and most important Croatian graphic designers, so this was a good choice of which artist to introduce, almost perfect actually.

Tomislav Krizman was associated with other famous Croatian painters and artists of his time, who were also a part of the emerging European art movements. I threw in some related videos about these art movements in Zagreb that Krizman was a part of. On my last few stays in Zagreb I noticed just how much art deco, secessionist and art noveau architecture and art there is in Zagreb, looking just like it was built yesterday in a lot of cases. It's really cool and something to see.  (See Art_Nouveau_architecture_in_Zagreb for just a small sample) A visual smorgasbord in Zagreb, art nouveau mixed in with modern buildings and then even centuries old medieval architecture and buildings.  (Being a part of the Austria-Hungary had it's benefits at times through the centuries, it brought Croatian artists closer to the various European literary and artistic circles and movements going on around them, this was also the case at times when previously the Venetian Republic controlled various parts of the Adriatic and Mediterranean)  I threw in just a few examples of the architecture that sprang from this artistic movement. A few of these artists and this topic I touched upon previously, links directly below. There's more links at the very bottom of this post about Tomislav Krizman......

(This topic of Secession Art, Art Nouveau and Art Deco art and architecture in Croatia definitely deserves a whole blog post of it's own, I came across numerous images of these styles from quite a few Croatian towns and cities. I came across lots of image galleries and blogs from other people discussing these topics in regards to various European cities, so maybe down the road I'll do one too)

Related previous posts: croatian-modernist-painters-miroslav-kraljevic







Tomislav Krizman self-portrait - 1908.  A member of the various Croatian art schools which like other European secessionist art schools, embodied the themes of separating from the support of official mainstream and conformist academic art and its administrations, and to instead pursue the new and emerging artistic styles. Image:


Tomislav Krizman (1882–1955), was a Croatian painter, graphic artist, costume and set designer, teacher, author and organizer of cultural events. He painted in oils and tempera, although he is principally remembered for his remarkable graphic art.

He spent a great amount of time visiting European cities perfecting his style. He was one of the founders of the Medulić Society and the Zagreb Spring Salon of 1916. He exhibited in Zagreb, Ljubiljana, Vienna, Paris, Rome and Belgrade He was also a costume and stage set designer for the Croatian National Theatre in Zagreb.


Tomislav Krizman was born on 21 July 1882 in Orlovac near Karlovac. He attended the Commerce Academy (Trgovačkoj akademiji), while also studying painting and drawing with Bela Čikoš Sesija, Robert Auer and Menci Clement Crnčić. From 1903 to 1907 he went to Vienna, where he attended the School of Crafts and then the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna studying with William Unger.

Krizman remained in Vienna for ten years, an important time in his artistic development, spending time with other artists of the avant-garde secession. He incorporated their ideas into his own art, and participated in the group exhibitions Hagenbundu, Jungbundu, Künstlerhausu and Secesiji.

From 1912, Krizman worked in Zagreb, first as a teacher at the Art and Crafts Design School (Škola primijenjene umjetnosti i dizajna), then from 1922 in the graphics department of the Academy of Fine Arts. He died on 24 October 1955 in Zagreb.

Poster 'U Korist Slijepi Hrvatski Vojnika' - 1915 (On Behalf of Blinded Croatian Soldiers) for a humanitarian concert featuring composer and cellist Juro Tkalčić Image/Info:


Krizman is principally remembered for his remarkable graphic work. He loved to travel, spending time in Spain, Switzerland, Germany and Italy. He drew what he saw upon his return, views of Vienna, Hrvatsko zagorje (Croatian uplands)  Croatian Dalmatia and Bosnia, Venice.  His unusual views during his travels of Bosnia, Hercegovina, Kosovo and Macedonia are very evocative and fresh. He created some memorable portraits, including Marya Delvard, Portret djevojčice, Autoportret, Meštrović and brat Hinko. His knowledge of graphic techniques was published in a book "On Graphical Arts" (O grafičkim vještinama), (1952).

He wrote books and magazine articles, worked as a costume and set designer for opera and drama. The appearance of posters corresponds with the emergence of the secession or art nouveau movements that arrived in Zagreb in 1898.  It was a popular image form of the new time, and Tomislav Krizman was one of the artists creating memorable poster art for various events of culture, sports, entertainment and politics. One of his first posters was of the cabaret singer Marya Delvard, who had delighted audience in Vienna and Munich, before arriving in Zagreb in 1907. Krizman's image perfectly captured the essential femme-fatal type of art nouveau woman.

'Procesija' (Procession)


Portrait of Marya Delvard
Portrait of Girls (Portret djevojčice)
Self-portrait (Autoportret)
Portrait of Ivan Meštrović
Brother Hinko (brat Hinko)
Ulica u Ohridu, 1930
Travel drawings and etchings


Solo shows

Recent solo exhibitions include

1995 Tomislav Krizman retrospektivna izložba - Art Pavilion, Zagreb.

Tomislav Krizman artwork in art nouveau style for a badge in 1908.

Group shows

During his lifetime, Krizman exhibited with the Medulić Society, and the Spring Salon. He exhibited in Zagreb, Ljubljana, Vienna, Paris, Rome and Belgrade. He was also a costume and stage set designer for the Croatian National Theatre in Zagreb.

 'Zagreb' 1946

Public collections

Tomislav Krizman's work can be found in the following public collections

Museum of Contemporary Art, Zagreb (Muzej Suvremene Umjetnosti)
National and Uiversity Library, Zagreb Nacionalna i Sveučilišna Knjižnica)
Croatian History Museum, Zagreb (Hrvatski Povijesni Muzej)
National Museum (Narodni Muzej), Zadar.

'Old Bridge in Skopje Macedonia' 1913.

Anniversary of the birth of Tomislav Krizman


In the history of Croatian visual arts there have not been many artists whose work was as versatile as that of Tomislav Krizman, one of the representatives of the Croatian Modernism. He was a painter and graphic artist, the originator of the Croatian applied arts and craft, stage designer, pedagogue and the initiator of many cultural events in Croatia at the beginning of the 20th century.

 'Split' - Image:

Krizman was born in Orlovac near Karlovac in 1882. He graduated from the business college in Zagreb and he was studying graphic art and the art of painting as a student of Bela Cikoš Sesija and Clement Crnčić. He was also a student at the Vienna Academy of Fine Arts and the School of Arts and Crafts. He further carried on his education in Munich, and travelled through Dalmatia, Bosnia, Kosovo and Macedonia through landscapes which Krizman captured in his works.

From 1912 on he worked in Zagreb – starting out as a teacher at the Zagreb Art and Crafts Design School and becoming the professor at the Zagreb Academy of Fine Arts in 1922. Although Krizman was doing oil and tempera paintings, he is most famous for his works of graphic art. Together with his many single-sheet prints he also published several print portfolios. In Zagreb he published the book O grafičkim vještinama, in 1952. He had exhibitions in Zagreb, Ljubljana, Rome, Vienna, Belgrade. He designed books and journals, and worked as a costume and stage designer in the production of various operas and dramas. He was a founder of the cultural programme entitled Proljetni salon and a co-founder of the association Medulić. His famous portraits Marya Delvard, Portret djevojčice, Autoportet and portraits from U procesiji reveal Krizmanić’s realistic approach to motifs characterized by mysticism, sarcasm and irony.

Poster of famous cabaret performer Marya Delvard which Krizman made during his 10 year period in Vienna. (1907) Image:

Marya Delvard sketch by Tomislav Krizman.

His later portraits, for example the one of his brother Hinko, Meštrović and others, included a psychological perspective, and were differently rated by different critics. Because of his extraordinary early works during his travels, after world war I, the serbian members of government and royalty were adamant that he do their portraits, Krizman eventually did some of their portraits after repeated threats to his future career if he refused.

During the 1940s Krizman’s intensive work in the field of graphic art slowly came to a stop, nevertheless until his death on 24 October 1955 he continued working in the field of stage design and applied arts. Valuable Krizman prints are today preserved at the National and Uiversity Library in Zagreb, while some of them are also available in the digitized form on the website Digitized NUL Heritage.

'Djevojka' (Girl) 1928. Image:

Portrait of Croatian composer and cellist Juro Tkalčić. (1923)

Early original sketch. 'Akt Supruge U Spavaćoj Sobi'. Image:


Tomislav Krizman (1882-1955) was Croatian pioneer of modern graphic and industrial design, painter and both costume and stage set designer for the Croatian National Theatre in Zagreb.  However, much like Menci Klement Crnčić he was above and before all a master draftsman and an exquisite engraver.

 From a book of his sketches. Image:

During his study at Trading Academy, he took classes with Bela Čikoš-Sesija, Robert Auer and Menci Klement Crnčić. Then he went to Vienna enrolling at the School of Arts and Crafts and the Academy. Krizman stayed in Austria’s capital for ten years and that period (1902.–1911.) was the most important part in his artistic development.  Krizman continued his artistic path and frequented the circles of the Viennese avantgarde elite and adopted the ideas of Secession, it was around his time in Vienna that the world was shocked with the Serbian pogrom to massacre the Albanians. Krizman went on and took part in the Viennese circle exhibitions as well; in Jungbund, Hagenbund, Secession and Künstlerhaus.

'Venice' 1913

After the First World War was over, Serbia then moved onto their next pogrom of massacring the Montenegrins, a bloody military campaign by Serb forces to suppress the Montenegrins took almost 7 years to complete with numerous deaths and the forced inclusion of Montenegro into the hastily made new state.  Slovenian lands and people as well as the Croatian lands and people after the war, had also found themselves for the very first time in history in a strange new political entity, for the first time with Serbia itself and their particular strange foreign culture. Krizman had already returned to Croatia by this time and continued to concentrate on his art and worked as a teacher, first at the Zagreb Art and Crafts Design School, then from 1922 on, at the Engraving Department at the Academy.

Krizman was one of the founders of the Zagreb Spring Salon (1916)  Though Krizman worked in oil and tempera as well, his forte was engraving. He liked to travel, and during his numerous voyages he made many drawings which served as a basis for later engravings. Besides “usual” destinations he traveled to more exotic parts as well – Bosnia, Herzegovina, Macedonia, Kosovo…Krizman was a master portraitist as well. In 1952 he published a book on printing and engraving techniques. Krizman exhibited in Zagreb, Ljubljana, Vienna, Paris and Rome.

An interesting short video about the history of the Art Deco, Secession or Art Nouveau movements in Croatia, of which Tomislav Krizman was a part of and featuring some of his work. (In English)



Two powerful artistic personalities, Krizman and Bućan, whose posters feature as motifs of this stamp set, mark the value and temporal coordinates within which the Croatian poster has emerged and is carrying on. The first appearance of the poster in Croatia corresponds to the advent of the Secession - in Vienna it appeared in 1897, in Zagreb in 1898. Expressing a special sensitivity for applied art, the style has made the poster the nucleus of graphic design. The style that found expression in the two-dimensional world of surface was ideal for the poster to be inaugurated as the popular image of the new times, as the scenography of city streets and squares, while the printing technique of lithography has made it possible. The authors of our first posters were primarily painters, but at the same time also excellent graphic artists and drawers.

Most of them studied at the Crafts School in Zagreb, founded in 1882, and further at the higher art schools and art academies of Central and Western Europe. Bela Čikoš Sesija, Robert Auer, Menci Klement Crnčić, Tomislav Krizman, Ljubo Babić, Frano B.Angeli Radovani, Mirko Rački, Jozo Kljaković, Radovan Tommaseo, all of them have created wonderful posters for various areas of human activities (culture, economy, sports, entertainment, politics), some of them becoming models of poster art. Even nowadays we consider Tomislav Krizman to be an unattainable role model in the area of graphic design and artistic craftsmanship, and we can consider his opus in this area to be pioneer work. One of his first posters comes from the year 1907 and was made for Marya Delvard, a singer and reciter who, before her arrival in Zagreb, used to thrill the cabaret audiences of Vienna and Munich and also used to inspire artists. By emphasizing the exaltation, coldness and self-confidence of a diva, “immersed” in the atmosphere of a literary cabaret, Krizman has perfectly pictured and presented a type of the fatal secessional female.

After the Secession, having achieved its full affirmation, the poster has continued its media march even more forcefully, expressing in its specific way all the changes that have occurred as the consequence of various artistic styles, trends and tendencies. Proof to that are the wonderful posters of Ljubo Babić, with the exceptional poetics and aesthetics of expressionism (he has made posters for the journals “Plamen” /Flame/ and “Republika”) and there also the constructivist posters of Josip Seissel. The Croatian poster reached its stellar moment in the 30s of the 20th century that is marked by extensive production (among them also numerous posters for the Zagreb Fair), with the style developed upon the experience of the Bauhaus and the attractive aesthetic Art Deco.

 His book 'On Graphical Arts' from 1952. It's contents were all about printing and engraving techniques for future Croatian artists.

The exponents of this style were authors-designers Sergije Glumac, Vladimir and Zvonimir Mirosavljević, Božidar Kocmut, and Pavao Gavranić. In the period after the Second World War, many significant changes and incentives for Croatian art, thus also for the poster, were to take place in the 50s of the 20th century, specifically with the activities of the EXAT group. The standard-bearers were artists, painters and sculptors who belonged to different trends, affinities and orientations. Some of them found their world and sense of artistic creation in abstract art and non-figuration; others remained faithful to the figurative approach. The former got involved in experimental visual research and, in time, accepted and included the computer as a powerful means of science and technology, the latter expressed their attitude to the world within the spheres of the sensual and the spontaneous. Having accepted the geometric abstraction as his constant orientation, Ivan Picelj produced a huge, integral and homogeneous opus of posters of characteristic visual groups of forms.

Portrait of Tomislav Krizman by Ivan Meštrović.

Beside him we must mention the following artists: Milan Vulpe, Mihajlo Arsovski, Alfred Pal, Boris Ljubičić, Dalibor Martinis, Stipe Brčić, Mirko Ilić and, naturally, Boris Bućan. Boris Bućan made his entrance into artistic life in 1969 and since then has created entirely new values, unique in the history of the Croatian and world poster art by building up his authentic author’s approach. “The Firebird”, the poster from the year 1983 made for the Croatian National Theatre in Split, is only one of the anthological examples from his admirable opus. The most recent generations of Croatian designers are participants in the great changes that have happened and that have been happening in the area of design, primarily in the technology of work that imposes new aesthetics and ways of communication. In this system, the poster as a medium has retained a respectable role. Lada Kavurić)

Below are just a few examples of early 20th century art nouveau found in the city of Zagreb. An early Art Nouveau etching of the National History Museum, Zagreb, Croatia by Vlaho Bukovac. Images:

A sign at the Zagreb Ethnographic Museum in Art Nouveau style. Image:

Dome at the top of the Ethnographic Musuem in Zagreb done in art nouveau style. Note the inclusion of the coat of arms of the Croatian Triune Kingdom, which refers to the Croatian lands extending back to the medieval Kingdom of Croatia. (More on that at A few more examples of art nouveau architecture in Zagreb Here.

Art Nouveau in the Croatian State Archives building along with artwork by Croatian painter Ivan Tišov. More images from the Croatian State Archives building Here.

Like many European capital cities, art nouveau architecture is still very visible and well preserved. Below is just one of many examples of art nouveau architecture in Zagreb.

The Croatian Postal Bank (Hrvatska poštanska banka) exterior in downtown Zagreb. This Art Nouveau architecture as well as the later Art Deco architecture is a direct result of the art movements from the times of Tomislav Krizman. Image:

A fine example of art nouveau can be found at the Hotel Regent Esplanade. Built in 1925 to provide accommodation for passengers of the famous Orient Express train, which traveled between Paris and Istanbul, the hotel was the center of Zagreb social life, especially in the 1920s. The interior of the Esplanade Zagreb Hotel contains many elements of art deco as well. (Examples)  Below is my personal pic.

Art Nouveau and Art Deco architecture can be found throughout the coastal city of Rijeka. Below is my personal pic.

One of many examples of Art Nouveau architecture in the eastern Croatian town of Osijek, the Croatian cities mentioned so far, and many others, are also known for numerous buildings with Art Deco architecture.

Art Nouveau architecture at Narodni Trg (Peoples Square) in the coastal city of Split.  Images:

Another fine example of early secessionist architecture in the city of Split, the art nouveau inspired sulphur baths building on Marmontova street. Images:

A cool short video about a private art gallery in Zagreb centered around the themes of art deco, secessionism and art nouveau. (In English)


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